Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 20: Acceptance

Aunt Vada walked onto the porch in time to see Remy and Xander lift Ken, wheelchair and all, as Janine stood by and watched.

"Oh dear me, I didn't even think of that... when you leave, I'll open the garage. there's a single step down, but it should be smooth sailing after that." Vada said quickly.

"Thank you ma'am." Ken said with a smile.

"Come on, we need to get inside, there's a chill in the air today. It wouldn't surprise me if it snowed by the end of the week." Vada said as she led the way into the house.

Xander and Janine followed Vada as Remy pushed Ken's chair.

* * * * *

"Faith, do you want to go back to Slayer Central or come with us?" Andrew asked from the hug.

"Robin's going to be working till about five, so I'll go with you." Faith said with a tender smile.

"Okay, do you need to do anything before we go Dad? Call anyone or get anything?" Andrew asked as he reluctantly pulled out of the hug.

"Um, no. I don't really know anyone here. I'm ready when you are." Lee said in thought.

"Okay, don't worry if it feels a little weird, we're going to be crossing dimensions, just keep walking." Andrew said with assurance.

"Okay son." Lee said with a smile.

* * * * *

Robert looked at Bobby, then Peter.

"Robert?" Bobby asked with a note of concern.

"Yes?" Robert answered curiously.

"You're not going to... rust or short circuit or anything if you shower are you?" Bobby asked hesitantly.

Robert got a fond smile and said, "No, my Borg components are designed to withstand various drastic conditions. Water will not harm them."

"Oh, good. I just wanted to be sure. I don't know what your Fathers would do to me if your joints rusted solid." Bobby said with a grin.

"I can simulate the effect if you would like to find out." Robert suggested with a smile.

Bobby laughed and turned on the water.

After a minute of standing under the water, feeling the spray on his skin, Robert said, "This sensation is pleasurable, I have never experienced water in this... airated form before."

"You have never showered?" Peter asked seriously.

"No. My alcove has a sonic cleansing component." Robert said simply.

"How does that feel?" Bobby asked slowly.

"I do not know. It activates while I am regenerating." Robert said and saw Bobby lathering his hair.

"May I use some of your shampoo? I wish to try it on my hair." Robert asked hopefully.

"Sure, just a little bit." Bobby said as he squeezed a drop into Robert's opened palm.

"Is it precious?" Robert asked as he looked at the dime sized drop of shampoo.

"No, that's just all you'll need for your hair." Bobby said with a smile.

"Thank you Bobby. The only time I have used shampoo before was when we shampooed Uncle Hank, we used much shampoo that day." Robert said as he worked the shampoo into his hair.

"You shampooed Dr. McCoy?" Peter asked in disbelief.

"Yes, his odor was strong and offensive so Father ported him into the lake, then we shampooed him and brushed him." Robert said as he moved back under the water to rinse out the shampoo.

"Did you get to see his... was he naked?" Bobby asked curiously.

"Yes." Robert said and brushed the water from his eyes to look at Bobby.

"Was he big? I mean, he's a big guy, is his... equipment to scale?" Bobby asked with a blush.

Robert thought for a moment then realized what Bobby was asking. "Oh, um, I don't know. I haven't seen enough to know if it is large or small in comparison."

"Okay, is it like mine or Pete's?" Bobby asked.

"Bobby, it is inappropriate to speak of such things." Peter said with disapproval.

"I know Pete, but it's not like I'll ever have a better chance to find out... and I just want to know. Aren't you curious? I mean, Dr. McCoy is such a big guy." Bobby said in a leading tone.

Peter stood and thought for a moment before saying, "I am curious as well."

"It is similar in size to Peter's but it is black." Robert said carefully.

"Black?" Bobby asked in disbelief.

"Not all of it. This part..." Robert said and pointed to the shaft of his own penis. "Is blue, a darker shade than his fur. But this part..." And he peeled back the foreskin and pointed to the glans. "Is black, or a very dark blue."

"Wow. And he's as big as Pete? That's pretty big." Bobby said and went back to showering.

"Oh, I did not know. I have not seen any but mine... and my brother's, which is the same." Robert said honestly and began to lather his upper body.

"Well, I've only seen a few. But Pete's is the biggest one I've seen." Bobby said honestly.

"Bobby, you are embarrassing me." Peter said sternly.

"I'm not saying anything bad Pete. I'm just saying that yours is the largest one I've seen. Which is good since you're such a big guy... it's to scale." Bobby said with a friendly smile.

"Is mine to scale?" Robert asked with concern.

"Yeah, and the cool thing is that you've still got a couple years of growing so it's going to get bigger." Bobby said and started to soap his legs.

"Is bigger preferable?" Robert asked as he rinsed off his upper body.

"It depends on who you ask. Some people like huge ones, bigger than Pete's. If you look at pornography, that's probably what you'll see." Bobby said as he rinsed off.

"What do you prefer?" Robert asked and stopped to enjoy the feel of the water.

"Um, I don't know. I guess when I find the guy that I want a relationship with, I'll want whatever he has... I don't really have a preference." Bobby said in a considering tone.

"I like yours." Robert said as he continued to stand with his eyes closed under the water.

"Um, thanks." Bobby said with a blush, then had a thought.

"Robert, get out of the spray and I'll wash your back." Bobby said quickly.

"Thank you Bobby. I was going to leave it unwashed because it would be awkward to reach." Robert said with a smile.

Bobby lathered up a washcloth and began to scrub Robert's back slowly.

Peter finished rinsing and said, "I will wait for you outside."

"Okay Pete, we'll be out in a minute." Bobby said with cheer.

"Bobby, your washing of my back is causing a reaction... is this inappropriate?" Robert asked hesitantly as he turned to reveal his erection.

"If Pete was still in here, yeah. But between you and me, it's fine." Bobby said and guided Robert to face away so he could continue washing his back.

"Bobby, I am attracted to you." Robert said slowly.

"Yeah, I thought so." Bobby said quietly.

"It does not make you happy to know that?" Robert asked hesitantly.

"It does and it doesn't. Robert, how old are you?" Bobby asked and guided Robert under the shower's spray.

"Thirteen... but that is only an estimate." Robert added quickly.

"I'm guessing a fairly accurate estimate. Robert, I like you. But you're too young for me to be attracted to." Bobby said with apology in his voice.

"I will get older." Robert said hopefully.

"I know, and maybe then something can happen. But until you're sixteen, nothing is going to happen. If we're both still interested then, we'll talk to your fathers and see what they say." Bobby said seriously.

"Should I tell them now?" Robert asked carefully.

"You probably should but, let them know that I won't do anything they'll disapprove of with you. If we're going to happen, then it's worth waiting for." Bobby said with a smile.

"Can I kiss you?" Robert asked hopefully.

"No. Not till you're sixteen. But hugs are okay... once we're dressed. Naked hugs are probably off the menu till you're eighteen." Bobby said with a smile.

"Did you get lost in there?" Peter called from the doorway.

"Just a minute Pete!" Bobby called out.

"Let's get dressed and go to your house." Bobby said warmly.

Robert nodded and turned off his shower.

* * * * *

Everyone took a seat, then Vada said, "I didn't think to offer you anything. I made a fresh pot of coffee since I knew you were coming."

"That sounds great. I'll get it, would you like some Ken?" Xander asked as he got up.

"Yes, since you went to the trouble." Ken said kindly.

"Remy?" Xander asked and received a nod.

Xander walked into the kitchen and there was a long moment of silence as Vada got a serious look.

She looked Remy in the eyes and said in a steely voice, "Before I sign this last paperwork, I need to know something. It's been gnawing at me since I first met you Remy, a lot of little things that didn't add up. Are you a mutant?"

The clatter of cups was the next thing heard as Xander stumbled on his way into the living room with the coffee.

* * * * *

Xander looked at the tray in his hand and let out a breath of relief as he noticed that he didn't spill the coffee, just rattled the cups.

Remy looked to Xander for a second before looking back to Vada.

"Oui, Remy be a mutant." Remy said in a whisper.

"What about Xander?" Vada asked seriously.

"No ma'am, I'm not." Xander said as he placed the tray on the coffee table.

"Perfect." Vada said without sarcasm.

At Remy, Xander and Ken's questioning looks she continued, "When Scott couldn't take off his glasses in the house, I suspected something. Then I met Alan's children who are... not your standard children. Then there's the institute. A lot of little things added up to one or both of you being mutants. Then I had to decide how I felt about that. If you weren't mutants, then I needed to know your feelings about mutants, to be sure Marguerite wasn't being raised by mutant hating fanatics, if you were mutants, I needed to be sure you weren't going to teach her to hate non-mutants. I'm guessing that neither will be a problem since you're a mixed couple."

"No, it won't be a problem Aunt Vada. The Institute is a mutant friendly place where mutants and non-mutants are all welcomed as long as they respect each other." Xander said seriously, then took a sip of his coffee.

"That's good. It occurred to me that I didn't know your feelings about such things and I have a very strong belief that mutants are people too. It pains me to see the mutant terrorism laws that they've put into place... and most of the public don't even care." Vada said, ending in a disbelieving tone.

"The president signed a bill last night. It clarified that genetic mutation does not make a person less of a human, or a citizen. And went on to declare that mutancy is a protected minority." Xander said seriously to Aunt Vada.

"Really? I hadn't heard about that yet." Ken asked with interest.

"Yes, we heard about it at three in the morning." Xander said with a chuckle.

"Then maybe the dark ages are over. The mutants can finally come out into the light." Ken said with a smile.

"Why do you take this so personally Mr. Howlett? Are you a mutant?" Vada asked curiously.

"Me? No, not at all. My wife, Loretta was a mutant. When she became excited her skin would glow the most beautiful patterns of colors... that's all. That was her ability, she glowed pretty colors. We went to see a movie and on the way out, someone had noticed when she glowed a little during the movie. They attacked us in the parking lot... they broke my back and killed Loretta, they beat her to death. While I was in physical therapy, I met a young man whose mutation had caused his legs to stop working and we became friends. Charles and I have worked together ever since to try and stop such things from happening again." Ken said in distant sadness.

"Gods of Hell, they kill your wife, cut out Remy's eyes, what's it take for people to stand up and notice the injustice?" Xander asked with fury.

"Calm down Xander, we can't stop the 'friends of humanity' today. But with this law on the books, maybe their days are numbered." Ken said in speculation.

"Perhaps." Vada said uncertainly.

"Then are we ready to get down to some paperwork?" Ken asked the group.

"What do you have planned for later today?" Vada asked as she looked to the men.

"Dis be it." Remy said and Xander nodded in agreement.

"I normally don't work on Saturday, this was just the only day this week that I was free to drive down here... so this is it for me too." Ken said simply.

"Then would you indulge an old woman's curiosity and take me to visit the Institute? I'd feel better about signing the paperwork if I could see where Marguerite is going to be living." Vada said sweetly.

"That would be fine. Do you gentlemen have any problem with that?" Ken asked Xander and Remy.

"No, no problem at all. I can't wait to show you around." Xander said with a smile.

"Oui, you love de boathouse. It be de perfect home for Marguerite." Remy said with a smile.

"How about you Janine, do you mind if I visit your house?" Vada asked with a smile.

Janine perked up and said, "I want to show you my room and introduce you to my friends."

"Good, it's settled then." Vada said and stood to leave.

* * * * *

Lee, Andrew, Trey and Faith walked into the living room to find Alex still wrapped in a blanket and everyone else sitting around talking.

"Andy love, I didn't expect you back so soon... I missed you." Alan finished in a whisper.

"Everyone, I'd like for you to meet my father, Lee." Andrew said proudly, then motioned to Alan. "And this is my husband, Alan Summers."

Alan fought himself to a standing position and walked to shake hands with his father-in-law.

"It's good to meet you. Your son is an incredible man." Alan said as he firmly shook Lee's hand.

"Nice to meet you." Lee said cautiously and looked at Alan's belly between them.

"Andy, you didn't tell your dad about the twins?" Alan asked as he saw Lee's look of question.

"Um, no... that's part of why we're back so soon. I thought it would be better to show him than try to explain things he probably wouldn't believe anyway.

"Angel?" Faith said with surprise.

"Faith, how are you?" Angel said happily.

"Five by five... and Chris?" Faith asked, straining her memory.

"Yes... Chris O'Rourke, my son." Angel said proudly.

"That's great Angel, I'm glad you've settled down. After two hundred and fifty years, it's about time." Faith said with a genuine smile.

"Come over here and let me know what's going on with you." Angel said and patted the couch beside him.

* * * * *

"Alan is carrying our twins, Chakotay and Thomas." Andrew said proudly.

"Your twins?" Lee asked in wonder.

"Long story. Do you want to feel them? They're both awake and active." Alan asked carefully.

A look of fear came over Lee's face but Andrew took his hand and guided it to Alan's belly.

After a minute of waiting Alan finally said, "I guess they know we're wanting them to kick, that's why they're quiet."

"That's okay." Lee said and pulled his hand away carefully.

"Now I'm going to give you the short version of introductions, for the sake of time and you can get to know people afterward." Andrew said as he looked around the room.

"This is Warren and beside him is his friend Kurt." Andrew began.

"It's a monster." Lee said in fear and took a step back as he looked at Kurt.

"He's a mutant like us Dad..." Andrew said to his father, then turned to Kurt and said with a look of apology, "At least he didn't try to hit you."

"Perhaps it vould hurt less if he had." Kurt said sadly.

Jimmy jumped on Kurt's lap and hugged him tightly then flashed a scathing look at Lee.

"Please don't be angry at your grandpa Jimmy, before today the only people he saw that didn't look human were hell beasts." Andrew said quietly.

"He hurt Uncle Kurt." Jimmy said firmly.

"I'm sorry Kurt, I didn't know... maybe I should leave." Lee said in a devastated tone.

"No dad, please just give us a chance." Andrew said quickly.

"I accept your apology Lee, I understand zat you did not know." Kurt said softly as he hugged Jimmy.

"Thank you Kurt. And I'm sorry I upset you Jimmy, I didn't mean it." Lee said seriously.

Jimmy looked away from Kurt and looked at Lee cautiously. Finally he asked, "I am not human, do you see me as a monster too?"

"No Jimmy, I see my grandson who I just hurt by speaking before I thought." Lee said seriously.

Jimmy nodded and turned his attention back to Kurt.

"Dad, this is my son Icheb." Andrew said hesitantly.

"Nice to meet you." Lee said timidly as he looked into Icheb's expression of caution.

After a long moment of hesitation, Icheb extended his hand.

Lee took the offered hand and shook it carefully.

"This is my friend Scott." Andrew said and gestured to Scott.

"My son has told me that you are a good friend to him. It's a pleasure to meet you." Lee said, still a bit timidly.

"Thank you. I'm proud that Andrew is my brother-in-law." Scott said seriously.

Lee looked at Scott, then at Alan and finally nodded.

"And this is another brother-in-law, Alex." Andrew said and gestured to the bundled form of Alex in the floor.

"Nice to meet you." Lee said quietly.

"Why do you look sixteen?" Alex asked, then noticed everyone in the room looking at him with disapproval.

"Someone had to ask." Alex said in an exasperated tone.

"I just do. I've been this way for over twenty years." Lee said shyly.

"This is your grandson William." Andrew said and cast an imploring look to his son.

"It's nice to meet you William." Lee said with a hopeful smile.

William looked closely at Lee, then at his father.

"I can see the features you have in common... you could be brothers." William said in thought.

Andrew smiled at that and said, "Dad, over here we have my friend from back home, Angel and his son Chris."

"Nice to meet you." Lee said a bit more solidly.

"Yes, a pleasure." Angel said and held out a hand to shake Lee's.

When Lee took Angel's hand he looked up in surprise.

"It's cold as ice." Lee said in wonder.

"Don't worry about that Dad, Angel's just like that." Andrew said dismissively then said, "And I think you already met Faith."

"Well, we weren't formally introduced." Lee said with a warm smile directed toward her.

"I guess you'll get to meet Robert, Janine, Xander and Remy later." Andrew said as he looked around the room.

"Robert will probably be here soon. He went to run with Bobby." Alan said from the couch.

"You have a big family." Lee said as he was led to sit on the couch beside Angel and Faith.

"Yeah... getting bigger all the time." Alex said from in front of the TV.

"So you said you work at a school. Would you tell me about that?" Lee asked Andrew quietly.

"Yeah, I teach Computer Science." Andrew said with pride.

"You're a teacher? That's great." Lee said with a smile and moved to hug Andrew.

"Um, it's just a job dad." Andrew said quietly.

"It's a career. Something I've never been able to do. I'm so proud of you." Lee said happily.

Andrew felt tears welling up in his eyes and quickly said, "Excuse me." before he ran from the room.

Alan pushed, pulled, shifted and finally dragged himself to standing, then followed Andrew into the kitchen.

Lee had a devastated look on his face and quietly asked the room, "What did I do wrong now?"

Scott smiled and said, "You didn't do anything wrong. You just did something very right. That's the first time you've ever told him you're proud of him... I think he just needs a minute to deal with that. He just got something he always wanted."

Lee took a moment to digest that information, then stood and walked to the kitchen.

* * * * *

"So little one, are you a mutant too?" Aunt Vada asked as the car traveled back to the mansion.

"No, I am just not human." Janine said with a proud smile.

"Oh, and how did that happen?" Vada asked as she put an arm around Janine's shoulders to hold her close.

"My brothers and I were found on a ship that was going to be destroyed. My fathers took care of us and loved us. Then when they got married, they adopted us." Janine said as she happily snuggled into Vada's side.

"That was nice of them. Are you happy with them?" Vada asked in a gentle voice.

"Oh yes. I have lots of friends, my daddies, my brothers, lots of aunts and uncles, and I'll get to start school next week." Janine said with a smile.

"Oh my, that's a lot of people who love you. What do you think about Marguerite coming to live with you?" Vada asked as she pressed her cheek to Janine's head.

"It's going to be great. I won't be the littlest anymore, I won't be the only girl. And Marguerite is going to be like my sister." Janine said happily.

Vada smiled and said, "I'm glad she'll have a big sister like you to watch out for her. Being the littlest isn't always easy."

"Yeah, but I'll show her how it's done. I've been the littlest long enough to know how." Janine said with assurance.

Vada laughed and looked out the window to watch the road.

* * * * *

"He said it, he said he's proud of me... and he meant it." Andrew said through his tears.

"I know Andy. Just let it out. I know you've been waiting a lifetime to hear those words. You can let all that old pain out now that you've heard them." Alan said in a soothing whisper as he rubbed Andrew's back.

"I should be in there with him... I found my dad Alan, and he loves me and he isn't a monster." Andrew said through his tears.

"Just take a few minutes to deal with this in your own mind. The family will take care of him till you get back." Alan said soothingly.

Alan looked up to see the kitchen door open.

"Is it okay if I come in?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"Yeah, talk to your son." Alan said and shifted Andrew into Lee's arms.

Alan took a long look at the pair before returning to the living room.

"Andrew, I *am* proud of you. You've done so many things I never could. You've got a huge, wonderful family, a career, friends, and respect. I couldn't even get one of those things to work for me." Lee said as he stroked Andrew's back.

"Dad, I've got something to tell you... Why I came to find you." Andrew said and pulled back to look in his father's eyes.

"Go ahead." Lee said quietly.

"A while back, before Alan and I got married, something happened and I became violent... I hurt Alan... bad." Andrew said with pain.

Lee felt tears forming in his own eyes at his son's admission.

"I told him that if I ever tried to hurt him again, that I wanted him to... basically, to kill me... and if he didn't promise, that I'd leave to protect him." Andrew said as tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Shit." Lee whispered as his own tears fell.

"Because that happened, I understand how you felt and I don't blame you or hate you for leaving. I'm proud that you were strong enough to do something that hurt so much... for me." Andrew said sincerely.

"And that's why you wanted to find me, to let me know that you understand?" Lee asked carefully.

"Yeah, and maybe to get to know you." Andrew said with a weak smile.

"Son, I've got so much to make up for and I don't even know how to start." Lee said sadly.

"We can't live our lives making up for the past. Besides, you don't have to make up for anything with me. I agree with what you did and why you did it. We're here now, let's just begin with today and leave the past behind." Andrew said with pleading in his voice.

"I don't deserve this... I never did anything but hurt the people around me... and myself. I don't know what to do." Lee said in a lost tone.

"Come in and sit with me and our family. That's all for now. Just get to know us and let us get to know you." Andrew said softly.

Lee nodded.

"So before we go out there, I just need to know... are you okay with me being gay?" Andrew asked quietly.

"Not a problem, I've swung that way a few times myself over the years." Lee said seriously.

"Okay Dad, Um, that was more information than I really needed but I'm glad you're okay with it." Andrew said shakily.

"Let me speed this up for you son. I'm okay with you being gay, being married to a man, having kids from other planets, and having a friend who is blue with a pointy tail. The pregnant husband thing is messing with my mind a little, but that's not disapproval, just disbelief... I'll get there. Does that cover it?" Lee asked hopefully.

"Just about. What do you know about vampires?" Andrew asked carefully.

"I lived in Sunnydale, I know more about vampires than I can tell you while I'm standing in your kitchen." Lee said with certainty.

"I have a friend who is a vampire... who was cursed with a soul. He's a good guy and doesn't bite people anymore. How are you with that?" Andrew asked with apprehension.

"I'd be a little nervous around him, but once I was sure for myself that he wasn't going to bite me, I think I'd be okay." Lee said cautiously.

"Good, Angel is a vampire." Andrew said with relief.

"The guy in the living room?" Lee asked incredulously.

"Yeah. I just wanted you to know so there wouldn't be any misunderstandings. I think you know everything now." Andrew said with a smile.

"I can see why you didn't want to tell me all this, I wouldn't have believed half of it." Lee said honestly.

"I know. Who would?" Andrew said with a smile and put an arm around his father's shoulder.

To Be Continued...